Can You Teach an Old Dog New Tricks?

Arsene Wenger is the greatest manager in the history of Arsenal football club. Period.

He’s won 3 Premier League titles, 4 F.A Cups, and reached both the UEFA Cup final and the Champions League final. Under his reign Arsenal have managed to finish in the top four every time, and progressed from the group stage 12 seasons in a row; something Arsene Wenger would attribute as the club’s ‘remarkable consistency’.  There’s no doubt that the man from Alsace is a very good manager, despite protestations from ‘WOBs’ and the exiled former Arsenal player, Stewart Robson, along with Piers Morgan, who in August 2008 claimed that ‘Arsène Wenger is the best manager Arsenal have ever had, and one of the top three or four in top-flight British football history (along with Shankly, Clough and Ferguson).’

Things change quickly in football.

'We want our Arsene back!'

In recent years, Arsene has seen his team decline to a state in which they can no longer challenge for the title and are usually omitted from the cups in the early round. As a fan, you can’t help but feel there’s a sense of paralysis inside the club. Wenger was previously accused of not taking the domestic cup competitions seriously, yet over the last couple of seasons has regularly put out strong sides to no avail. He clearly knows how much this team needs trophies to give it the confidence and belief it needs. Indeed, last September he claimed that this side was his ‘most complete squad ever’.

Although most would beg to differ, Wenger clearly believes in the team despite shocking results such as the loss to Bradford in the league cup,  the recent defeat to Blackburn in the F.A Cup, and the league defeat to Swansea.

Is this blind faith?

Does he not see the glaring errors made by the defence which has seen us become the side with the most errors leading to goals this season?

Why won’t he sign the players the squad needs to challenge for trophies again? The squad simply doesn’t have the steel or the winning mentality required to achieve this.

Arsene Wenger cares about Arsenal Football Club as much as every Arsenal fan. Why else would he have turned down lucrative offers from the likes of Real Madrid? It must be hard for him to see players he’s nurtured and put so much faith into abandon him to rivals, improving them and inevitably making Arsenal weaker.

The mentality of the club has to change.

I’m not an AKB, but I do believe there’s life in the old dog yet. Yet, Arsene hasn’t adapted to the sudden decline in the quality of his squad. Once upon a time, he could send out almost any team without much tactical preparation or much acknowledgement of the opposition and be confident of a result. That’s not the case now. Even against Barcelona in 2011, the team still had world class players in van Persie, Fabregas and Nasri, where are those world class players now? Jack Wilshere is one, arguably. Bayern Munich were going to be very difficult to defeat without changing the style of play or the tactics. Just look at Milan on Wednesday night. Milan managed to defeat Barcelona using Arrigo Sacchi style defending, with a lineup who didn’t really have players you would see as capable of executing such a regimented strategy and still came out with a win.

It can be done.

Arsene has too much pressure on his shoulders, and needs someone to take that pressure off. Maybe Arsenal need a Director of Football, someone who Wenger admires and whose advice would listen to and take on board?  Or would Arsene see the implementation of the role as an insult? It’s difficult to see anyone making the decision to create the role at the club. Although, in a sense, Arsene is already a manager, a coach and a Director of Football all rolled into one. There seems to be little pressure from inside the club on Arsene and someone to scrutinise Wenger could bring out the best in him yet again.

Can you teach an old dog new tricks?

I don’t want to see Wenger go but if he does decide to leave when his contract expires I don’t want the likes of Stan Kroenke and Ivan Gazidis choosing his successor. It’s imperative that Arsene has a hand in deciding who should replace him. Could that replacement be Remi Garde? Jurgen Klopp? Laurent Blanc? Maybe a pre season without losing players whilst adding those with quality will give Arsene a chance to work on the players and the tactics used, allowing the team improve and hit heights not seen since the 07/08 season, the last time we actually looked close to winning the title.

I’ll leave you with a nice quote from the Aston Villa manager, Paul Lambert, whose side we face this Saturday:

“If people shout ‘You don’t know what you’re doing’ at Arsene, then there’s no hope for the rest of us.”

Follow me on Twitter @JCook_04

Leave a comment


  1. Tom Bush

     /  February 22, 2013


  2. Checked it ,liked it !!! All I think we need is our fair share of luck. We used to be called lucky arsenal but those days are gone. We are not a bad team just unfortunate at times . Anyway keeping my fingers crossed for rest of season lol…..

  3. marcus

     /  February 23, 2013

    I don’t criticize your support of your AW but I find it extraordinarily offensive that you dismiss Chapman and put AW above Chapman — who not only elevated us into a top class club, but also invented so much of the norms in football we don’t even think about today. The lack of historical recognition of what Chapman achieved for both Arsenal and the founding of so much of what we know of football today is inexcusable.

    • Trust me, I know my stuff on Chapman and I recognise him as a major part of the club’s history. Wenger’s above that for me, though. Plus, this is an article about Wenger, not Chapman.


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